Artists at a glance
CHASE EMERY DAVIS
LAURENCE MADE ME CRY
THE VAN T'S
These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and reviewed by Fresh On The Net’s Richard Dowling this week. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
ASTRALUNA – Play With Fire
In the past, Astraluna toured the world with Corinne Bailey Rae, and I’m sure she must be just as chuffed by recent success, featuring not only amongst this week’s Fresh Faves, but also appearing on the Listening Post last week with I Forgot To Breath – and having that song played by Tom Robinson on this week’s BBC Introducing Mixtape.
Of course, it’s not hard to see why this multi-instrumentalist’s music is connecting with people; the ukeleke-based Play With Fire is backed up by a soulful bass and funky drums while Astraluna’s empassioned vocals set the melody on fire. Indeed this song crackles and sparks with energy all the way through – a fitting way to end the weekend’s Guy Fawkes celebrations!
CHASE EMERY DAVIS – You Don’t Need to Cry Anymore
Chase lists his influences as Bach, Joe Hisaishi, Michael Nyman and Yann Tiersen – that’s not your usual list of pop artists… and indeed he’s not your usual pop artist.
He was born in New York, grew up in Paris and now lives in London, where he’s studying music composition at Brunel university. It’s been a busy life, but it’s no wonder that his music is bursting with optimism and energy despite the haunting melodic invention of You Don’t Need to Cry Anymore.
On soundcloud, Chase Emery Davis says he’s a baritone, but this belies the range of his voice which sounds pure and sweet in every register he uses. It really is a wonderful track that pulls you in and wraps itself around like you a hug from a long-missed friend.
It seems Chase’s training has had more than just musical benefits; according to his homepage like all classically trained Baritones Chase can sing in French, Spanish, Italian and even Japanese. So, uh, ganbatte Chase-san!
HEAVY HEART – Teenage Witch
There’s a groovy yet psychedelic edge to Heavy Heart‘s Teenage Witch, topped to perfection by the singer’s dreamy vocals. I also detect some touches of ’90s Brit-pop and shoegaze, but despite these comparisons Heavy Heart definitely have their own sound.
The group are, in their own words, “a five-piece, female-fronted alt/dream rock band from New Cross in south east London”. Despite some online research I wasn’t able to find out the details of the band members beyond the fact that the lead singer is called Anna and the guitars are played by James and Patrick. It seems that this year the group is releasing one song per month, with a view to releasing the entire collection of songs from 2016 as a limited-edition vinyl in Spring 2017.
Things are going well for the band as they are receiving praise from the likes of GoldFlakePaint, NME Radar, The Line of Best Fit and HiddenHerd amongst many other blogs. Obviously, with their sheer talent and capacity for hard work, Heavy Heart have no need of witchcraft to succeed.
JAY DUCKER – New to Me
Mr Ducker’s roots are in folk, his website tells us, but he’s aiming for a more ambient, electronic style of music. Mission accomplished, I would say, after enjoying New to Me which is a brilliant showpiece for his charmingly world-weary voice.
From rural Suffolk, Jay currently resides in Norwich, and I imagine the tension between country and city life plays no small part in his musical explorations. When he intones, “I can’t see my horizon anymore” I wonder if he’s thinking of a lost country youth, or of concrete buildings blocking out the sun. Yet the subtle double-tracking on the vocal helps to lift what could be a downbeat tune into something positive and life-affirming.
LAURENCE MADE ME CRY – Song For The Birds
Laurence Made Me Cry is the solo project of Jo Whitby, a multi/instrumentalist who divides her time between Glasgow and the Highlands. She gained a Welsh Music Prize nomination in 2013 for debut album The Diary Of Me. An EP, Titan’s Daughters, was released earlier this year and Song of the Birds is, I suspect, an advance of the next release.
Delicate acoustic guitar tumbles over a hypnotic drum and hi-hat pattern, while Jo’s evocative voice tells us “my heart is aching and I don’t know why”. The arrangement is subtle but masterful; when a lilting violin enters, things could easily have slid into Celtic cliché, but the whole piece feels as fresh as morning bird-song.
Jo describes herself as a “folk pop songstress”, but on the evidence available this description falls far short. I sincerely hope that Laurence guy is rethinking his policy of upsetting gifted artists.
LUKE DE-SCISCIO – To Carry You
On Soundcloud, Luke De-Sciscio lists his location as Bath, Swindon and Bristol… I’m noting a trend amongst the young up-and-coming pop stars of today to live in more than one city at a time. But while he may be geographically promiscuous, Luke is certainly faithful to the art of writing intense, yearning ballads.
To Carry You is simple in arrangement; just an acoustic guitar and a voice. But what a voice. One commentator at the Listening Post even made comparisons with the great Jeff Buckley. With such a blistering voice, Luke is surely guaranteed to wow a wider audience soon.
MAIAH MANSER – Second Skin
If Maiah Manser isn’t singing on the opening credits of the next Bond film, then diamonds aren’t forever and the world is enough.
The breathy vocal samples of the intro put me in mind of 10cc but the song revealed itself as a soaring gospel-tinged epic with Maiah’s voice swooping one moment and purring the next. Quite a showcase. Production was handled by Buddy Ross who is a West Coast Producer and keyboardist with Frank Ocean, and the result is a wonderful arrangement with real depth and some surprising instrumentation. But you can’t polish a turd as we say in the UK, and Maiah’s solid songwriting is the key to the success of this track.
Maiah is based in Seattle and Los Angeles, which must make for a long commute. I hope the journey gives her time to craft more gems like this. Her debut EP, Second Skin is due out soon.
MAJIK – Real
Lush vocals and synths weave together in Real, leaving us in no doubt that the partnership of Jamie, a scientist from Ayrshire, and Marcus an artist from Marlow is going to be a fruitful enterprise.
The song kicks off with a delicate piano line over what could be a metronome or the ticking of a grandfather clock building tension until Marcus’ deep, velvety voice fills the speakers. “If this is real,” he asks, “then why don’t we feel a little bit more?”
Currently touring around Europe, Majik have upcoming concerts in Glasgow, Belfast, Paris, Bristol and London so you have plenty of opportunities to catch them working their spell on audiences soon.
OMYO – Daydreamers
Based in London, OMYO is the union of Tom McCorkell and William Edward. Tom handles lead vocals, while William is responsible for the music and backing vox. The name is an acronym for Our Music Your Opinion.
And my opinion, for what it’s worth, is that their music is excellent.
OMYO have been featured in the past on BBC Introducing and by Charlie Sloth on BBC Radio 1 Xtra. And it’s true that Daydreamers is a slice of acoustic and synth-inspired urban-pop that is utterly radio friendly and begging for airplay. The stirring tune builds and builds to a captivating climax, with Tom’s voice dripping with soul. Hopefully, the world will wake up soon to their talent.
THE VAN T’S – Fun Garçon
The recipe for a good band is surprisingly easy – singable tunes played with fire – yet so few bands actually get it right. Fortunately, The Van T’s succeed in everything, from the cool name to the cool look, to the coming from Glasgow, but most importantly the music is rapturously divine.
The Van T-s are like Jesus and Mary Chain on steroids, with reverb drenched guitars, reverb drenched vocals. I bet when they go shopping in the High Street they get drenched in reverb.
Comprised of Chloe Van Thompson (vocals, guitar), Hannah Van Thompson (vocals guitar), Joanne Forbes (bass) and Shaun Hood (drums) The Van T’s look set for big things. Fun Garçon is a raucous rollercoaster ride. Time to get your ticket.
PS from TR: If you’ve submitted a track that hasn’t been picked for the Listening Post, our team has definitely listened to it and there’s no need to send it again: feel free to send us an even stronger track another week. The same goes if you were picked for the Listening Post but didn’t feature in our Fresh Faves.
But if we’ve recently featured you in our Fresh Faves – or on my BBC Introducing Mixtape – please wait three months before sending us another track, so we have space to help other deserving artists… For more info see Robinson Has A Good Old Moan.